Sentence on Leeann Douglass, from Hartlepool, is cut from 22 to 18 months

Judge cuts jail sentence on woman who supplied drugs to man before he died

Judge cuts jail sentence on woman who supplied drugs to man before he died

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

A JUDGE has cut the sentence on a woman who supplied drugs to a man shortly before his death after admitting it was too high.

Leeann Douglass was sentenced to 22 months in jail at Teesside Crown Court after admitting several charges including possessing a class C drug, diazepam, with intent to supply and assaulting a police officer.

But that has now been cut to 18 months after, unusually, Judge Peter Armstrong said he had reflected on the “totality” of the sentence.

Douglass, 25, of Wharton Terrace, Hartlepool, sold 20 diazepam tablets to Christopher Vanes on the day that he died of heart failure in April last year.

Police found more than 2,500 of the tablets during two separate searches of her home, along with mobile phones which contained messages about dealing.

She bit a police officer and tried to stab him with a pen when she was subsequently arrested along with her partner.

It was unclear whether Mr Vanes' death was directly attributable to the diazepam since tests showed he had a cocktail of drugs in his system, including heroin.

However it was possible the diazepam – which is used by clinicians to treat anxiety and insomnia - supplied by Douglass may have increased the toxicity of the heroin taken by the victim, Judge Armstrong previously said.

Amending Douglass's sentence, the judge said there were aggravating factors such as the fact Douglass was on bail and she had breached a suspended sentence.

But the consecutive elements to the overall sentence he had passed meant that, in his view, it had the effect of sentencing Douglass twice.

Judge Armstrong, who commented that it was the defendant's first time behind bars, said in totality it was too high.

He added: “My statutory duty is to pass the least sentence commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.”

Douglass was said by her legal representative Martin Scarborough to have mental health issues and was addicted to diazepam, which she sold to fund her habit. She was not present for the hearing which amended her sentence.


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